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Pentagon: South Korean hostage beheaded

Seoul reaffirms plans to send more troops to Iraq

South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il kneels on the floor as one of his captors reads a statement in this video shown Tuesday on Al-Jazeera.
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CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports on the killing of the South Korean hostage.

South Korean man held hostage in Iraq.

CNN's Brian Todd looks at beheading as a tool of terrorist propaganda.
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Iraqi insurgents carried out their threat to behead the South Korean civilian they were holding hostage, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

A senior coalition official in Iraq said the body, which was found by U.S. military police west of Baghdad, appeared to have been thrown from a vehicle.

"The man had been beheaded, and the head was recovered with the body," the official said. Pentagon sources said the body had been booby-trapped with explosives.

"It breaks our heart that we have to announce this unfortunate news. A body identified to be of an Asian man was found between Baghdad and Fallujah," said South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil in Seoul.

"Afterwards, the photo of the body was e-mailed to the South Korean Embassy and was confirmed to be the body of Kim Sun-il."

In a video broadcast Sunday, the insurgents gave South Korea 24 hours to cancel plans to send 3,000 additional troops to Iraq, threatening to behead Kim if it did not.

The South Korean government reaffirmed the deployment plans Tuesday but urged businesses with civilians in Iraq to remove them.

South Korea plans to send 3,000 troops to Erbil in northern Iraq. Military officials say about half are combat troops trained to protect the rest, who are to help rebuild Iraq, distribute aid and train security forces.

About 670 South Korean military medics and engineers in southern Iraq since May last year will move to Erbil to join the main force, which Seoul sees as a difficult but vital gesture to the United States, an ally with 37,500 troops in the South as a deterrent to North Korea.

Once the troops are in place, South Korea will be the largest coalition partner in Iraq after the United States and Britain. (Full story)

Al-Zarqawi connection?

Kim, 33, was seized Thursday in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. He was an Arabic speaker and had worked in Iraq for a year as a translator for a South Korean firm supplying goods to the U.S. military.

The Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera broadcast a video Tuesday showing armed and masked insurgents standing behind Kim, who was kneeling on the floor.

The insurgents claimed to be members of the group that killed American businessman Nicholas Berg in May, and the video was similar to the first part of the one Al-Jazeera broadcast that showed Berg's beheading.

"To the South Korean citizens: We warned you," one of the militants read from a statement in the video broadcast Tuesday. "This is the result of your own doings. Enough lies, or cheatings. Your soldiers here are not for the sake for the Iraqis, but they are here for the cursed America."

An Al-Jazeera anchor said the network chose not to air a videotape of Kim's execution "out of respect for the viewers' feelings."

A banner hanging behind the hooded captors showed the name "Unity and Jihad," and the man who read the statement identified the group with the same name.

In statements on Islamist Web sites with links to al Qaeda, the group has signed itself with "Unity and Jihad" and the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the group calls its "emir."

The U.S. government contends that al-Zarqawi -- a 37-year-old Jordanian who has a $10 million reward on his head -- has a long-standing connection to al Qaeda and is a close associate of that group's leader, Osama bin Laden.

The statement the group released in May claimed that al-Zarqawi himself beheaded Berg, and a CIA official said an analysis of the tape of the killing concluded with "high probability" that al-Zarqawi was the hooded speaker on the video.

CNN Arabic linguists familiar with al-Zarqawi's voice noted, however, that the voice on the latest recording did not have a Jordanian accent.

Al-Zarqawi is also accused of organizing terrorists to fight U.S. troops in Iraq on behalf of al Qaeda and is believed to have plotted the 2002 killing of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley, gunned down outside his home in Jordan.

Kim, Berg and Paul Johnson -- killed last week by his captors in Saudi Arabia -- were all shown in videos wearing orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by detainees at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Han Sung-joo, the South Korean ambassador to the United States, said Kim's death was "a very deplorable event," and he took issue with the militants' claims that the Koreans were not helping the Iraqis.

"They are not correct," Han said. "We are trying to help the Iraqis. ... The Iraqis like us, and they appreciate our role there."

President Bush condemned the killing. "The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," he said. (World reaction)

Seoul appealed for Kim's life

In the video broadcast Sunday, Kim cried in English, "Please get out of here. I don't want to die. ... Your life is important, but my life is important."

Shin said South Korea had been trying to establish contact with as many countries and organizations as possible that could help win Kim's release.

He declined to comment on whether South Korea had direct contact with the kidnappers.

South Korean government officials gave numerous interviews to Arab media appealing for Kim's release, Shin said.

"President Roh [Moo-hyun] instructed related ministries to explain to the Iraqi people that our government is sending troops to Iraq to focus on reconstruction efforts there without engaging in hostile acts there," presidential spokesman Yoon Tai-young told reporters before the death was announced.

Vice Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin told reporters in Seoul, "There is no change in the government's spirit and position that it will send troops to Iraq to help establish peace and rebuild Iraq."

CNN's Sohn Jie-ae in Seoul and's Caroline Faraj in Dubai contributed to this report.

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